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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Hebrews 11:32-34 And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

The author of the Hebrew letter had just completed an amazing list of people that demonstrated great faith in God, and the good works that resulted from them. Without telling their deeds of faith, he now lists a number of other men that demonstrated the same great faith in God. There are biblical examples of faithful men and women throughout God's holy word - many more that are listed here in the 11th Chapter of Hebrews. However, the author wrote these as examples to the Hebrew Christians in order to encourage them to follow in their faithful ways.

The faith of Gideon was a good example. For years the Midianites oppressed the children of Israel by coming upon them during harvest time, taking their crops for themselves, and destroying what was left. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord to save them from these enemies (See Judges 6:1-10). God heard their cry and sent an angel to Gideon as he threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites (Judges 6:11). Gideon was chosen by God to lead the Israelites from this oppression. Assured of God's blessing and guidance, Gideon demonstrated his strong faith in God. With an army of only three hundred men, he totally confused and defeated the mighty Midianite and Amalekite armies (See Judges 7).

Also, mentioned here, is Barak and his great faith in God. Because Israel did evil in the sight of God they were oppressed for twenty years by Jabin, king of Canaan, and by his military leader, Sisera. Again the children of Israel cried unto the Lord. Therefore, God called on Deborah, who judged Israel at that time, to deliver Israel from this oppression. She, in turn, called Barak to lead the army of Israel against Sisera and the Canaanite army. By inspiration Deborah told Barak, this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand. With his faith strengthened by God's assurance Barak led the army of Israel against the Canaanite army and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left (See Judges 4).

The faith of Samson also serves as a good example for all Christians. Judges, chapters 13-16 contain this biblical story. Because of the unrighteousness of Israel, the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. God raised up Samson to deliver the Israelites from the Philistine oppression. We read of many feats of strength performed by Samson. We also read of his many sins and shortcomings, which are not to be emulated. However, on many occasions, the faith of Samson led him to deliver Israel by many decisive defeats of the Philistine armies. Beguiled by Delilah, Samson's strength left him. The Philistines took him, his eyes were put out, and he was imprisoned. In his final hours, Samson's faith caused him to pray that God would give him the strength to defeat his captors once again. God answered his prayer, and with his mighty strength, Samson pulled down the two pillars holding up the house in which the Philistines were feasting; it fell upon him and his enemies, and all were slain. So the dead, which he slew at his death, were more than they, which he slew in his life.

Consider the faith of Jephthah. In Judges, chapter eleven, we find that he was the son of Gilead, and his mother was a harlot. Gilead also had other sons by his true wife. These sons resented Jephthah because his mother was a harlot. They did not want him to participate in their father's inheritance, and, to prevent it, they threw him out and rejected him as a member of their family. However, whenever the Ammonites made war with Israel, the elders of Gilead recalled Jephthah's military ability, sought him out, and asked him to become their leader. It was the elders of this tribe of Israel that made Jephthah their leader, but this was not sufficient for him. Jephthah also desired God's blessing. He placed his faith in God that He would deliver the Ammonites into their hands. Jephthah's faith was not in the elders of Gilead, but in God. Faith in mankind is never to be preferred over faith in God. There were characteristics and deeds in the lives of all these Old Testament characters that we are not to use as guides to our lives, and certainly this is true of Jephthah. However the faith Jephthah placed in God is our example - a faith followed by obedient action.

The faith of David is well documented in Old Testament history. He was probably Israel's most famous, and most beloved king. Be was the youngest son of Jesse, and was born in Bethlehem of the tribe of Judah. The two verses following the lesson text tell us the acts of the faithful, most of which can be attributed to David by his faith in God. They tell us that the Israelites, as led by King David, through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens (Vss. 33-34). Although David committed many sins in the sight of God, it was his faith in God for which he is commended. Certainly his faith in God allowed him to avoid the deadly pursuit of King Saul. However, it was his youthful faith in God by which he slew the giant, Goliath. David's life was one of continued faith and dependence on God to guide his pathway, protect him from harm, and deliver him from those that sought to take his life. It is continual faith in God that all Christians are to possess and use as their guide throughout their lives.

The faith of Samuel is also given as our example. From his birth, Samuel's mother, Hannah dedicated him to God's service. He was not only a prophet of God, but also the last of the judges of Israel. He appointed Saul as the first king of Israel, as well as their second king, David. As a young servant of Eli, the high priest, Samuel was called by God to serve Him (See 1 Sam. 3:1-20). He was faithful in his service to God. By faith he called on all Israel to put away false idols and worship only God. And the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only (1 Sam. 7:4). His fellow countrymen held Samuel in high esteem. By his strong faith, and the deeds that resulted from his faith, he was a true servant of God and his people, the Jewish nation. What a great example of faith for all Christians!

We find in the remaining verses of this chapter of the Hebrew letter, that many other men and women could have been mentioned in this dissertation of faith by Old Testament characters. Many suffered threatenings, mockings, scourgings, tortures, stonings, bonds, and imprisonment. But it was by the power of faith in God, that they overcame all trials and tribulations and lived holy, heroic, and exemplary lives. And they did so without the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham, that in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 12:3). They were faithful to God without having seen the coming of the promised Messiah.

Previously in this letter, the writer told us this about these Old Testament examples of faith. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb. 11:13). These are examples of faith to all Christians. They, as well as all followers of Christ Jesus, by faith in our Heavenly Father, wait for the day of eternal salvation when we can enter together into the city whose builder and maker is God. The promise to Abraham has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The gift He brought to the world was eternal salvation of all faithful children of God. This we believe through faith in God!